Plans filed for a new Lawrence Starbucks on Sixth Street; taco chain to close on south Iowa Street

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World photo

A Starbucks with a drive-thru and patio seating is pictured at 23rd and Ousdahl in this 2019 file photo.

Plans have been filed for a new Starbucks drive-thru coffee shop on Sixth Street, as the competition for Lawrence’s coffee dollars appears to be heating up.

A plan filed at City Hall shows Starbucks is interested in building about a 2,200-square-foot coffee shop with a drive-thru at the southwest corner of Sixth Street and Crestline Drive.

If you are having a hard time picturing the location, I sure don’t. It used to be home to the Cadillac Ranch, a country music bar. In a story that she hates, I met my wife there by chance. (If it was a Starbucks then, I’d still be single because I certainly couldn’t have afforded to buy her a fancy coffee.)

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World

Plans have been filed at Lawrence City Hall for a Starbucks to locate on the site that formerly housed the Cadillac Ranch at Sixth and Crestline.

The plans still need to win some approval from Lawrence planners before a Starbucks becomes a reality at that location. The company is seeking a variance that will allow it to change the entrance on Sixth Street to a right-in, right-out entrance. There may be some other technical approvals also required.

But assuming those approvals come, look for the coffee competition to get a bit stiffer. If you recall, Scooters Coffee has undertaken a fairly aggressive expansion plan in Lawrence. In recent months, it opened a drive-thru kiosk at Sixth and Wakarusa, and has filed plans for three other drive-thrus — one on a former used car lot just north of Ninth and Iowa, another on the former Pie Five restaurant site on south Iowa, and another on a former used car lot at 23rd and Haskell.

Starbucks, of course, already has multiple locations around Lawrence. I’ve been told counting Starbucks is a lot like trying to count stars in the sky, but I believe Starbucks has three standalone locations — one in downtown, one on Bauer Farm Drive in far west Lawrence and one near 23rd and Ousdahl. The chain also has locations inside three Dillons stores and Target. It also has a location in the Hy-Vee store, I’ve been reminded.

All indications are that the new location at Sixth and Crestline will be both a drive-thru and a sit-down location. That’s different from Scooters, which is drive-thru only.

Just like chicken restaurants and later car washes, I have no idea what the data is showing about Lawrence that says it needs more coffee shops. But it seems that the chains have received that message.

Speaking of car washes, the Cadillac Ranch site has been vacant for several years. We previously reported that plans had been filed for a car wash to locate on the property. But that was a quite a while ago, and those plans obviously have washed away as several other car wash businesses beat that idea to the punch.

In other news and notes from around town:

• Word just came down this afternoon that Torchy’s Tacos is closing its lone Lawrence location, which is near 31st and Iowa streets. The company posted the news on its Facebook page Tuesday afternoon. It remains open through today, but won’t be open starting tomorrow. The restaurant will continue to have locations nearby in Olathe, Overland Park and Kansas City.

As is often the case, the announcement doesn’t have a lot of details about why the chain is closing its Lawrence restaurant. However, it is in a spot where restaurants have struggled to be successful. With the closing, there soon will be two vacant restaurant buildings at the corner of 31st and Iowa streets. The other is the former On the Border Mexican restaurant. Torchy’s is located in the next-door spot that previously housed Longhorn Steakhouse. Both restaurant locations basically are in the parking lot of the Best Buy store. However, neither restaurant has direct access off of Iowa Street or 31st Street. You kind of have to meander through a frontage road or a parking lot to get to either one.

We’ll see if either location attracts interest from other restaurants. While the two sites have issues, the intersection has high traffic volumes.

As for Torchy’s, it is an Austin, Texas-based chain that has been in Lawrence since about 2020. It offered a variety of street tacos, with several spicy varieties, plus all the ordinary fixings like salsa, queso and plenty of beverages to wash it down.


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